Central KY Day of Valor supports and thanks veterans

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, July 2, 2024

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While showing gratitude, Friday, June 28, also marked a day to provide resources and information. 

The Central KY Day of Valor occurred from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the auxiliary gym of George Rogers Clark High School. 

“It’s an important day in our community, and not just in our community, but we have guests throughout the regions,” said Winchester Mayor JoEllen Reed, speaking to those in attendance. “You’re men [and] you’re women who have exhibited great valor during your lifetime.” 

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With Lady Veterans Connect playing a significant role in developing the Day of Valor, along with Kim Elkins, support for veterans was evident right away. 

As one walked toward the front doors of George Rogers Clark High School, several American flags were displayed, as were vehicles advertising Vet Centers provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Red Cross – which was hosting a blood drive. 

After entering and registering, those headed to the gym encountered over 30 vendors. 

Among them were American Legion, Post 50, the Clark County Veterans Council, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Chapter 12, the Kentucky Department of Veteran Affairs, Job Ready Vets, Military Missions, and Veterans Resources United of Central/Southeastern Kentucky (VRUCK). 

Veterans Upward Bound, an organization funded by the U.S. Department of Education that – among other objectives – assists veterans in succeeding with a postsecondary education program, appeared.

“We help veterans access their benefits and…anything else they need,” said Stephanie Whitaker, an Education Specialist with Veterans Upward Bound. “They can get the GI Bill and that will take care of a lot of education that they might want…we really help people plan.” 

Other organizations were also helpful to support veterans in fields ranging from health care, to insurance needs, and beyond. 

They included Bankers Life, the Brain Injury Association of America, Hamilton Relay, Hospice East, Lifeline Homecare, Mountain Comprehensive Care Center, New Vista, The Insurance Lady, and services from both the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky. 

In addition to vendors, a small ceremony gave several dignitaries an opportunity to speak. 

Following opening words from  Reed, former Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner offered a prayer. 

Afterward, Rolling Thunder Inc. KY Chapter 5 led The Posting of the Colors, a practice conducted by military color guards to begin a ceremony. 

While offering words of support from his office, Senator Greg Elkins then led those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by Perri Wilson singing the National Anthem. 

Certainly not least, a pair of speakers addressed the crowd. 

One was Jennifer Drumm, Associate Director of Patient Care Services for the Lexington VA Health Care System. 

“I want to say that the veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors have served and sacrificed for our country,” she said. “ The Lexington VA Healthcare System is honored to serve you by providing optimal health care.” 

While adding that many services were available, including optometry and audiology, Drumm also pointed out facts such as that the Lexington VA Health Care System will soon join the UK Markey Cancer Center affiliation network and planning phases for a radiation oncology building are underway. 

Also present to speak was Mark Metcalf, who currently serves as Kentucky State Treasurer and is a veteran himself. 

He spoke to fellow veterans. 

“Without you, we would not enjoy the freedoms…for us, for your children, and your grandchildren, and for generations to come,” he said. 

Metcalf also noted that – among the approximately $832 million of unclaimed property in the Treasury – much was military related. 

“We have unclaimed properties that include Bronze Stars and Silver Stars [and] priceless treasures that some Kentucky family needs to claim,” Metcalf said. 

He hopes to see others take action to ensure they’re returned to rightful owners. 

“It’s easy to apply. We’re able to get [claims] to most people very quickly,” Metcalf stated. 

Other dignitaries were also present to provide support and services, including representatives from Congressman Andy Barr’s office. 

As the city celebrates the Central KY Day of Valor, Reed provided some additional words. 

“The dictionary definition of valor is ‘great courage in the face of danger’, and there are so many of you who have faced that,”  she said. “You are to be honored, and you are to be thanked…we are grateful and we thank you for your service!”